HPV vaccination of adolescents increases; suburban, rural areas lag

Photo/Merck & Co. via Bloomberg News.

Photo/Merck & Co. via Bloomberg News.

A majority of U.S. parents are getting their kids vaccinated against HPV, or human papillomavirus, according to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Georgia’s rate was even higher. The CDC recommends all people be vaccinated at about 11 or 12 years old.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, so common that nearly all people who are sexually active will get infected at some point. Most of the time people never know they have HPV and it goes away. But in about 31,500 cases a year it causes cancer, including cervical cancer.

The report estimates that full vaccination could prevent 90 percent of those cancers.

The study released this week by the CDC found solid increases in vaccination rates from 2015 to 2016, despite some attempts to politicize the issue. By 2016, 60 percent of all U.S. teens had been vaccinated at least once, compared with 67 percent in Georgia. The full vaccination series requires more than one shot, and only 43 percent of U.S. teens were fully up to date. In Georgia, that was 46 percent.

Vaccination rates were slightly worse in suburbs, and they lagged even more in rural areas, the report found. States where fewer than half of teens had had even one HPV shot included Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Wyoming.